Oral proceedings by videoconference can be enforced by the EPO during the pandemic
On 16 July 2021 the EPO's Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA) decided on referral G 1/21 regarding the legality of enforcing oral proceedings by videoconference, even if both parties objected. The decision was taken after a public hearing held before the EBoA on 2 July 2021. The EBoA endorsed conduct of oral proceedings by videoconference for appeals during the pandemic.
The decision did not address the question whether oral proceedings by videoconference may be held without the consent of the parties in the absence of a period of general emergency (such as the Covid-19 Pandemic). Nor did it address whether oral proceedings by videoconference may be held without the consent of the parties in examination or opposition proceedings before the EPO's departments of first instance.
The reasons for the decision will be available in writing from the EBoA soon, then the EPO is expected to assess any potential indirect implications on oral proceedings held by videoconferencing before the EPO's departments of first instance.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.